So, let’s talk about Thanksgiving. Why, when Halloween hasn’t even arrived? Well, for two reasons:
1. I live for Thanksgiving.
2. If Target, Walmart, and the other major chains have bypassed it, and headed straight into Christmas, then it deserves a bit of respect and recognition.
Today’s subject: Favorite Holiday Side Dish
Here it is, hands down:
So cheesy, so gooey, so true to its name.
Martha’s Perfect Mac and Cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.
Alton Brown’s Next Day Mac and Cheese Toasts
- Leftover baked macaroni and cheese, refrigerated for at least overnight
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 egg beaten with 2 ounces water
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Oil for deep frying, preheated to 375 degrees
Cut refrigerated macaroni and cheese into slices or bite size pieces.
Season the flour with salt, pepper and cayenne. Dredge each piece through the flour and gently tap off excess. Dip in the egg wash and then coat with the bread crumbs. Allow them to rest for 5 minutes so the crust can set. Very carefully drop into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove to a baking sheet fitted with a rack and rest for 2 minutes before serving.